The Build, Continued
When I first installed the H100i, I ran into an unpleasant surprise: severe interference of the motherboard with one of the coolant hoses. As you can see, the lower hose is pressed quite hard against a motherboard I/O port housing.
While the system would work, I didn’t think it would be a good idea to leave a vibrating rubber hose pressed so hard against the sharp metal edge of the I/O port. Flipping the radiator so that the hoses were at the front precluded the use of both the front fan and 5.25″ drive tray. Corsair’s own publicity photos show this cooling system installed, so I was obviously doing something wrong. What was it?
Aha! The trick is don’t use the same mounting holes you’d use for the fans. Instead, use the mounting holes slightly above and to the left of those as shown here. This moves the radiator and its hoses just far enough so that the hoses aren’t touching the I/O port. Corsair should point this out in the manual.
The Gigabyte GA-Z77N motherboard really isn’t the right choice for this case, because most of its connectors are on the side of the board, right up against the radiator and fans. These include the four SATA ports, the main ATX power connector, the front panel header, and the USB 2.0 header. With some judicious cable routing and liberal use of zip ties, I’ve managed to keep the wires out of the fans (I tried adding fan grilles, but there’s no clearance available between the edge of the motherboard and the edge of the fans– they wouldn’t fit.) and keep things just neat enough so that I’m not too embarrassed of the view through the windowed top of the case. I was able to route all four SATA cables out through the bottom of the motherboard tray under the radiator, and along the side of the case to the drives. This did require a long cable to reach the optical drive.
OK, everything’s installed and ready to go. Overall this was a reasonably easy build, with the only real problem (aside from the radiator mounting) being dealing with the tangle of cables at the front of the case, below the 5.25″ tray. Here’s a hint: remove the front fan during the build and you’ll have a nice large access hole at the front of the case that will make things a lot easier. Re-install the fan at the very end of the build.
If I were building a system from scratch, I’d choose a motherboard that positioned its connectors at the front edge, like the ASUS Z87I-Deluxe. This would make it a lot easier to have a neat build that would look good through the case window.
I’ll present my final thoughts and conclusions in the next section.